Robert Alton Williams

Staff Sergeant, United States Army


D Troop, 
17th Cavalry
199th Light Infantry Brigade

Entered the Service from: New Jersey
Died: October 27, 1967
Buried at: Mt Hope Cemetery
                  Southern Pines, NC
Awards: Bronze Star with V Device, Purple Heart

ROBERT ALTON WILLIAMS was born on September 10, 1943. He went into the Army at the age of 18. When he went into the Army he listed his hometown as Ashland, New Jersey. All indications point to him living in Voorhees Township, the Ashland neighborhood straddles the border between Voorhees and neighboring Cherry Hill. Robert Alton Williams was unmarried.

On Oct. 27, 1967 Staff Sergeant Williams was on patrol with five other soldiers near Saigon. They were ambushed by a group of Vietcong and during the firefight, five of the six men were killed.

The five men from D Troop, 17th Cavalry who died in the fight were 

  • SSG Robert A. Williams, Ashland, NJ; (Bronze Star "V")
  • SSG Robert J. Carmody, New York, NY 
  • SGT Stephen P. Jones, Terre Haute, IN;
  • CPL Linden B. Dixon, Berwyn Heights, MD; and
  • CPL Jon P. Turk, Melrose Park, IL

This action took place in Gia Dinh, South Vietnam.

Staff Sergeant Carmody was the 1964 Olympic Bronze medallist in boxing. He held a record 4 all-Army titles in boxing and 3 inter-service titles as well a Bronze Medal from the Pan-AM games and a CISM Gold Medal. He coached the 101st Airborne Division boxing team as well as AAU, Army Boxing Team, and the Iraqi Olympic Boxing Team. 

I was in the field at the time of that patrol. I had just recently been on 3 or 4 missions in that general area. I would have been on that patrol with Sergeant Williams but had requested to Sergeant Olsen that I only go on his team or Sergeant Foams team. I did not want to go out with a team of new guys. So when I came back to the rest area nearby where a few APCs from the 17th cav were making a temporary camp. This was kind of a new thing. The cav had taken a new sudden liking to the Lrrps and decided toi use them to patrol out in depth around those flat delta temporary cams. Before this i the Cav. had a great dislike of the Lrrps. I was there from the beginning (April 1967 to November 1967) of the Lrpps. In those early days of Lrps the teams members chose the team leaders as well as team kleaders requesting one as member. You could also double up on patrols fr additional time off to some place like Saigon. At this time I enjoyed being in the field and did on many times join other teams. I did not want to go out this time.

As I recall only Sergeant Williams was qualified to be a Lrrp of the men on that patrol. First, I was a graduate of the 5th Special Forces Lrrp school in Na Trang. I believe your brother was also a graduate. Also a two week school that the 199th had for the early Lrrps, to weed out those not suited. Most of the men on this patrol had neither and had been recruited by Sergeant Olsen as they needed new men to replace those of us whose one year tour of duty was up in late November or early December. So that is the reason so many new guys ended up one one team. The Lrpps schools were very demanding. First you had to run each seven miles each morning in full gear with weapon before chow. And you had to know your stuff. Your brother took out a bunch of new men not really qualified as Lrpps that night.

I knew the area where the team was lost quite well. Probably more than the others since I would double up on missions at this time.

I can assure you that I never had any bad feelings about your brother. He was serious about his job as team leader, I was put in for Sergeant by him and he withdrew it because I got drunk and climbed the water tower with a couple of other guys and made a wee bit of noise. The First Sgt, of the 17cav was upset. It was not the first time I or my friend had tweaked him the wrong way. He was just trying to be a good First Sgt, and lets face it I did not want to be a team leader which would have created much responsibility, I just wanted to go out on missions.! did not want the responsibility period, I drank a wee bit too much back then and still do. Especially at night. Bui I was extremely serious on patrol and this is why most wanted me on their team.

I never remember your brother getting drunk with the rest of us. He took his beer one and then left. He was always concerned or worried with the next patrol. I must say in all honesty that I did not always agree with his following o orders by the book. But this is the way it was.


September 19, 2003

is honored on Panel 28E Line 089 of
the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.